Friday, September 21, 2018

Seven Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

You’ve all probably seen or at least heard of the 1970’s classic film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, starring Jack Nicholson. The title is actually based on an old rhyme about geese (for quilters, that would be flying geese, hehe)

One flew east
One flew west
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

So, this week in my sewing room (AKA the Cuckoo’s Nest), seven birds flew over. And all of them are in shades of dark blue (mostly), the color of the month for our Rainbow Scrap Challenge. If you follow the link to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday linky party, you can see what the other cuckoos, er, I mean quilters, are sharing from their nests!

Since I planned for this quilt to have a preponderance (I love that word!!) of blue, and had only made two birds back when we did light blue in January, I had seven more to stitch up this month. Mission accomplished. Here is the entire flock of nine bluebirds, hanging out together. 

They were a bit worried being out in the open like this, given that two felines (who shall remain nameless) live in the house. But we got the picture snapped and the birds tucked safely back into their work-in-process cubbyhole. 

The birds will be interspersed with Irish Chain blocks for a queen-sized quilt. My plan is to stitch as many of the remaining 28 Irish Chain blocks as possible next week. I need a total of 32 and have only done 4. So, the chain blocks plus sewing my crumb blocks in the remaining medium-to-dark blue scraps are on the agenda.

I’ve also basted the Orange Lozenges quilt (no picture) and started the quilting on it. That will finish up this week as well. And right now the design board has the second half of my bow tie blocks on it, so I’m hoping to get that flimsy pieced this week. No pressure. Gulp.

But getting back to this week, there was more than just birds flying out from under the needle. I sewed a replacement block for my Squared Away Sampler to match the first one, so here they are together. The wild and crazy one I showed last time is resting comfortably in the Parts Department.

And then I laid waste to my blue scraps and strings by making twenty (20!!) of these 8.5” quarter log cabin blocks.  These are just so much fun to make! 

Right now I have all 120 of the planned blocks I think I may need for a quilt, but I’m going to go ahead and sew some more dark green blocks next month so I’ll have some color placement options. When all is said and done, any extras not used in the quilt will go into the Parts Department. I’m hoping that I can find enough good stuff in there this winter to piece together a Parts Department Inventory quilt.  

And are you beginning to think of the projects you want to work on for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2019?  I’ll have my crumb block project carrying over (working title is now Crumb Cake). And one other project is assigned to the lineup. But there are several more vying for a place. I’m trying to vary my projects by piece size (crumbs, strings, chunks, small squares, etc). And I need a project or two to help me use some light neutrals and black/white prints. So it’s a fun process to try to “piece together” a working plan, while tackling items on my Must Make or Bucket lists.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Forever in Blue, Jean

I’ve had Neil Diamond’s song “Forever in Blue Jeans” running through my mind today. (You’re welcome for the ear worm). Referring to the punny title of this post, I don’t even know if there’s a Jean who reads this blog. And I don’t want to be in blue forever anyway. But for this month, those of us participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge are concentrating on our darker blue scraps, from mid-range all the way to navy. And black or other dark neutrals if we have time. Angela is hosting Scrappy Saturday again and we’re glad that she has missed the worst of Hurricane Florence. But the inundation of the Carolinas is underway. If you live there, I hope you’re safe and dry.

Last week I forgot to post a picture of my some of my blue sewing. So, here’s the remedy for that. Selvage Squares - 17 at 6.5” and 3 at 4.5”. 

And as often happens. the Block Lotto block for the month of September happens to be the same color as the Rainbow Scrap Color - blue in this case.  Here are my two blue blocks. Aren’t they cute?

These are for donation to the group because I was one of the winners of the California Poppies blocks last month. Forty blocks toward a bright quilt! Stay tuned.

Moving along, I made the remaining four blocks I needed to complete the next round in the All You Need is Love quilt I’m making for my daughter Megan. Three “lollipops” and one friendship star.  

The lollipops on the left side are sewn to the main piece; the rest of them and the stars are just stuck up on the design board.  I will finish sewing that round and then put it away until later in the month or perhaps October.  But for fun, I pieced a few of the black and white checkerboard squares that will comprise the next round. What do you think..... will that be OK? Or should I do it in navy and white??

The hearts, all 54 of them, were pieced when we had the pink RSC month, so by the end of October I should have the next two rounds added on. The final row after that is an 8” block, yet to be decided. I’ll get more serious about it during the 4th quarter, since it’s a Christmas present.

I was playing with the collage maker that’s installed on my iMac, getting used to its functions since all the other free sites have either changed to paying sites or are so gooped up with ads and crap that they’re virtually unusable. 

Anyway, remember that awful block I pieced last week - my wacky take on this month’s lovely Squared Away block? Let me refresh your memory.... see the mess block at right? Well, when I put it into a collage maker, with just three blocks across and four down, with a bit of turning, it looked like this:
That might really look nice with more blocks - a full-fledged quilt. I’m going to at least tuck away the idea.

So what did I work on all week if there are no more blue blocks?  Well, I finished two quilts! YAY!!!

This is a safari-themed baby quilt that measures 46.5 x 55”. It went together so quickly! The fabric (all except the yellow) is an older line, Origami Oasis, by my favorite designer, Tamara Kate. I love the green block stuck in there with the blue. I truly was one block short of the blue (didn’t want to cut into the leftover stripe for the back) and had just the one green block.

I franken-pieced the batting, and quilted it with straight diagonal lines. Here’s the back.

It’s meant to be a gift for someone, but I’m not sure we’ll be getting together. So, it may end up in the donation pile.

My second finish was Linked Squares. All I had left to do on this one was finish the second half of the quilting, which I did last Sunday, and then bind it. 

Linked Squares finished at 64x80”. The binding is a great black and white stripe, and the backing fabric is a piece of abacus fabric I picked up somewhere on the cheap to use for an RSC quilt back.

I’m planning on this being a donation quilt, but will wait and see if anyone else in the family asks for a quilt this year. 

And since we’re working with blue, I’ll add these pictures of my brother Steve’s hot rod, Hellion (named for our mom, Helen, who loved being called Hellion). Steve got all his stuff packed, loaded and delivered home right on schedule. 

Here’s one side of the 1930 Model A, looking from our front porch out to the street where it’s loaded onto a trailer.

And the other side of the car, looking from the street back to the house. Hellion had a rumble seat, but it’s been removed to accommodate something or other. Personally, I prefer accurate restorations, but Steve is all about hot rods and dragsters.

Now that Steve and his stuff are gone, I’ve got two guest rooms that will be getting refreshed over the next few months. The bedrooms, which are both along the front of the house, will get new double- or triple-paned windows. That will complete the replacement of all the windows upstairs, and all that’s left for next year is my studio window and a new screen door my studio outside door. 

Also, we'll be ripping up the carpet in the yellow “girly" bedroom so that the hardwood floor there will match the “African” bedroom/library and the hallway. Then I’ll have the ceiling, closet doors, and wood trim painted white (from the existing gray). I’ll complete that refresh by painting the wood-grain ceiling fan white and making a new quilt and jelly roll rug.  In the African bedroom, there are two walls to retouch or repaint since the futon we gave to Steve really scratched up the walls. I’m getting tired just planning it all..... the older we get, the more happy I am to pay someone else to do the work!!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Coming and Going

It’s been a crazy week.

My brother Steve arrived from Colorado to move his stuff. He came by Amtrak so he could drive a U-Haul truck back full of his stuff while towing his Model A on a trailer. The train was delayed before leaving and didn’t arrive until 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. THAT was fun - driving into downtown Salt Lake at that hour to pick him up. Train stations aren’t usually located in the nice part of town. But we got home safely,  I got my sleep, and Steve has been loading his stuff up slowly but surely. Today, Saturday, should be the last loading day, and hopefully he’ll be able to take off tomorrow. He has help unloading on the other end.

Bruce is working ComicCon (now called FanX) and doesn’t get home until 9-ish. That ends today, too, thank goodness. And since the commuter trains and buses run less in off-peak (non-commuter) hours, I have to take him and pick him up at the Trax station. Meanwhile, between running Steve around for errands and appointments, and shuffling Bruce, I’ve had precious little time for myself. But that’s fine - I was prepared for this week and its resulting chaos and messes. But not much sewing got done.

I did sew up two of the Squared Away blocks that Angela, our Rainbow Scrap Challenge hostess, and Mari of Academic Quilter  have cooked up for us.  After doing the first one on the right above, I started in on the second one. I didn’t like the lack of contrast in the fabrics I’d selected, so I just made it up as I went. The pieces are the same, but shuffled and with different shading to form a different pattern. I sorta kinda like it a tiny bit, but not as much as the original block. I may still do another blue block.

The Orange Lozenge top did get finished this week. It’s now awaiting its turn to be basted.

And finally, I got started on the quilting of Linked Squares. It’s halfway done. There’s not much to see at this point.

I’ll finish quilting it today and tomorrow (sew day with Cousin Kim!). It will be a finish for this week. My goals for the coming week are also to sew and quilt the baby quilt top whose pieces I showed last week, sew up all 7 bird blocks in blue for my Lattice Birds top, and baste the Orange Lozenges quilt. I have a mammogram on Wednesday and lots of housework to face during the week sometime. But at least there will be a slow return to normal - or what passes for it - around here. Thanks for dropping by! xo.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August Sewing and a new September Goal

August was a great month for sewing. With all our kids having flown the nest long ago (and now sending THEIR kids off to school), our focus was just enjoying the summer, family, the garden, hobbies, and - in Bruce’s case - work. Yes, he really loves his post-retirement job at The Leonardo museum where he is the Resident Engineer. It keeps him out of trouble (and my hair) for 4 days a week.  :-)

I completed three quilts, all of which were near the final stages at the beginning of the month. They just needed basting, quilting and binding. More information about them is in the Quilt Gallery tab, above. They are Groovy Guitars for Bruce, an aqua donation quilt and the Farm Girl quilt for me. So glad to have these all done!

But this past week I just focused on moving other projects along.  I basted Linked Squares.

I started another quick quilt (gulp). It’s just going to be a quick patchwork baby quilt for our friends Marilyn and OD from Kenya, who are visiting here in September. It will be a simple patchwork quilt. The patches are already cut. The zebra fabric on the left below is the backing (with a stripe of the blue) and the blue will be the binding. It’s for their son S. This fabric is from an older line called Origami Oasis by my favorite designer, Tamara Kate.

I made progress on Orange Lozenges by sewing up an additional five blocks - each block containing 24 lozenges. The last row that’s pinned to the design board is overlapped by the row above it due to space considerations - my design board isn’t long enough.

So, I only have four more blocks to finish, and one of them is almost done.

The other three are ready for their corners. It was a challenge to make sure that there were no more than two of any one print in any block, so I was sorting and re-sorting until the end.

This WILL become at least a finished top in September, although I want to finish the entire quilt. In fact, I’m declaring that as my OMG - One Monthly Goal - for September as I link up to Elm Street Quilt’s September Goal Link-up, HERE

Moving along, I also began sewing together my Bow Ties into a quilt. These little blocks are 4” (finished), and there are 288 of them that will be set 16 x 18, resulting in a quilt that will measure 64x72”.  I got half of the quilt done!  I have so enjoyed this Rainbow Scrap Challenge project over the last two years and really look forward to seeing this one completed.

I finally settled on this very basic, traditional set with random color placement. It’s going to be a keeper for me. There are just so many memories stitched into it from all the fabrics!  I would love to finish this top in September, too, but September promises to be a hectic month (more on that later), so we’ll just have to see.

Here are some close-ups.

Alfie and Darla won the voting for the 2018 Pets On Quilts category Cats on Quilts over at Lily Pad Quilting. YAY! Thanks to all of you who took the time to go over to see the contest (it’s for a good cause) and vote. They won a jelly roll of fabric, which they gave to me. And some of YOU won prizes, too, for participation. Way to go!

And now we start on dark blues for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I’m happy we’re finally getting back to the blues. I have lots more birds to make in blue this month, plus all the rest of the blue Irish Chain blocks for the top.  And we have another block for our Squared Away quilt, so there is certainly a lot on my plate for September.

And speaking of a lot on my plate, my brother Steve will be returning to visit us in the coming week. He found a cute house in Montrose County, Colorado (southeast area, about an hour from Grand Junction) with about 3/4 acre of land, and bought it. He closed on it a couple weeks ago and is now ready to return here to gather his stuff and haul it home. 

Steve will return here by train so that he can rent and drive a U-Haul truck and trailer (to tow his 1930 Model A Ford) home. While he’s here for about a week, he also has all sorts of business - banking, medical, etc - to wrap up. Since I’ll need to chauffeur him around, I imagine it will seriously cut down my sewing time for a week or so. LOL. But the upside is seeing him, to say nothing about getting our storage areas and guest bedroom back. So it’s all good, right? 
Saturday, August 25, 2018

So Many Orange Scraps

It’s time to recap all my progress with orange scraps this month. I’m joining in with all the other rainbow scrap enthusiasts at Scrappy Saturday.

First, I sewed up all my leftover orange bits and bobs. I love making crumb blocks at the end of the month, and this time I was able to knock out 17 blocks at 6.5”.

I have plans for all the crumb blocks, but that’s for next year’s challenge. I think I showed a sample back when we were doing teal. Essentially, I’ll be taking four blocks of one color and sashing them with a black 1” strip, forming a giant + in the center. That means that I’ll need blocks in multiples of 4. So next year I’ll continue sewing scraps this way, and combining them at the same time. It will probably end up making at least two donation quilts.

So, my orange results are shown here.

2   Linked Squares blocks @ 16.5"
17 Crumb blocks @ 6.5"
16  Quarter Log Cabins @ 6.5"
6  Bowties @ 4,5"
4  Orange Birds @ 10.5"
2  Squared Away blocks @ 10.5"
2  Lollipops @ 6.5"
2  Friendship Stars @ 6.5"
15 Selvage Squares in orange (pictured HERE)
9   Selvage Squares in brown (pictured HERE)
Total Blocks:  75

And for those of you who read my posts about the trip I took to Kenya last month, you may remember the pictures of the rutted dirt road in the Mau Forest that took us up to the village of Entiak and the Tenkes Primary School. WORST.ROAD.IN.THE.WORLD.

Well, there is some good news. While there are no immediate plans to pave it, at least the Kenyan government has graded the road, which should improve conditions for a few years.

Before (last month):

After:  YAY!!

During the next week until month-end, I’ll be working on finishing up the blocks for the Orange Lozenges quilt. This was the picture from the start of the month, and I already have three more blocks made. Only six more to go. 

And if I get those done, I can sew up the top and then baste it AND baste the Linked Squares quilt top too. Wish me luck. There are an awful lot of vegetables from the garden that will get higher priority!! Tomatoes and squash, I’m looking at YOU!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Two Quilt Finishes!

Now that Groovy Guitars is done and out of my quilting queue, I’ve hit the ground running to finish up other in-process quilts. This week I finished up both a little baby donation quilt and my longest-standing UFO (unfinished object) - my Farm Girl Vintage quilt!!

Let’s start with Farm Girl. I started this back when Lori Holt did her quilt-along, at least 3 years ago. I had chosen the 12” size rather than the 6” size because I was a fairly new quilter at the time. And frankly, I had issues with HSTs and flying geese and keeping points and maintaining proper seam allowances and .... and....

But with time and practice, my skills improved, even to the point where I was able to put these sometimes-wonky blocks together into a cohesive whole. Yes, it’s readily apparent that I now need to work on my photography skills....

Farm Girl finished at 70x82”, and I quilted it with loops on my Bernina. I would say that this size is about the limit of what I’m comfortable wrangling with on my home machine.

The backing is a farm print I bought on clearance at Connecting Threads last year, and I also used almost all its remnants to make a matching binding. Many of my favorite blocks are not represented in the 30 I chose for this quilt because they were used in the Autumn Sampler quilt I finished last January (see this post).

I still have leftover Farm Girl blocks and will probably make a donation quilt from them. They’re currently making friends in the Parts Department.

The other quilt I finished this week is a donation quilt made from a charm pack of Horizon by Kate Spain, a few extra solids and some leftover oatmeal-colored background fabric. It finished at 41x46” after washing and shrinking.

Today I’m linking up with Sarah for Whoop Whoop Friday and Alycia for TGIF (Thank Goodness it’s Finished) Friday.

These were also goals on my Quarter 3 Finish-Along post. Although I didn’t link up with the hosts (and am therefore ineligible for prizes this quarter. I was in Africa at the time.), I am using the QAL as motivation to check items off my list. The Farm Girl quilt was #9 on my list and the donation quilt was #6. You can see my goal-setting post HERE.
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Harambe Humanitarian

During the course of the 8 posts I did on my trip to Kenya last month, I had several comments from friends who asked about Harambe Humanitarian, the group that I went with. 

Our trip was primarily a humanitarian trip, but the hosts Marilyn and Oldere (OD) also made sure we had plenty of fun things to balance out the work. Marilyn is a master planner! We visited an elephant orphanage (twice), a giraffe sanctuary, safari’ed on the Maasai Mara, shopped, visited a manyatta village, met Maasai warriors in the bush - all in addition to visiting schools (primary and secondary) to distribute school supplies, distribute sanitary supplies for girls (and teach the Days for Girls education programs), and plant trees. And we even distributed sturdy wooden toys to young children. We did good things, learned a lot about Kenya and its beautiful citizens and had fun all the while.

Harambe Humanitarian (Harambe means “come together” in Maasai) is waiting for its final approval as a 501(c)3 non-profit from the State of Utah.  It has been approved by the UT State Tax Commission and the tax id number has been assigned. The rest of the process is just paperwork catching up.  

Marilyn Sorensen is the President and driving force behind Harambe, although there are several others on the Board of Directors. As well, there are a couple local (Utah) angels that have generously donated funds to get the Foundation going.

Harambe has already worked with groups and individuals to bring supplies and services to Kenya, including Days for Girls, the Girls Scouts of America, Tiny Tim’s Toys Foundation as well as many elementary and secondary schools and businesses. They prefer to work on projects that will enable the locals to grow and learn and help themselves, especially those relating to women’s health, education and self-sufficiency.

 In June, the Foundation purchased 3 acres of bare land in Kenya on which will be built a library, a birthing center and midwifery clinic, an education hub and extended stay housing for volunteers. Harambe has already been instrumental in opening up a Days for Girls center. And under DFG guidance, they educated two local women to run that center and do presentations to girls throughout the Narok area of Kenya.

Currently, over 14,000 donated books from school fundraisers are being held in a storage facility in Utah. The books will eventually make their way to Tenkes Primary School in the Mau Forest where they will be used to start a library. The foundation is flushing out every option to get the books shipped there and to raise funds to complete the library building so that the books have a home. It will serve as a multi-purpose continuing education center and pop-up clinic in that remote area.

So, those are the most immediate plans, but they will always have their hearts and eyes open for other opportunities and donations that will help the women, children and families in Kenya.

FYI, Harambe plans about 3 humanitarian experiences (“soul safaris”) per year; the next one will in the fall, with others following regularly in 2019 forward.  For more information, check them out on Facebook at Soul Safari HERE. It’s a closed group, but you can tell Marilyn you know me if you are interested in finding out more.